Self Tanner Guide

Updated: Apr 11, 2020

Self tanners are my JAM! What better time to practice applying a self tanner than being self quarantined. This is seriously the perfect time to play around with self tanners because if you mess up, no one will really see it. Most of the self tanners I use are super easy use and great for beginners. With that being said, I do need to clarify my favorite self tanner is a bit tricky. So let's dive into talking about some of my favorite self tanners and my routines for applying them!


Exfoliating is the most important thing to remember before applying any self-tanner or getting a spray tan. It needs to be your first step and your top priority. If you don't remove that first layer of excess skin before you tan, it can leave you looking orange or streaky/patchy. Mainly because the DHA, an active ingredient in self tanners that allows your skin to look darker, will attach to the dry layers more heavily. I was taught a trick by my friend Stevie that does professional spray tans for Bronzed Babes. She shared the importance of starting the exfoliating process a day or 2 before you plan on applying your self tanner/spray tans. Also, when it comes to removing your tan it will be hard to remove until about a week of having it. Exfoliating does not need to cost you an arm and leg either. Let me save you money and share a couple tricks when it comes to exfoliating.

I once saw a blogger use brown sugar and decided to give it a try. YOU GUYS, it's the best exfoliating hack I've found! It's cheap and probably something you already have in your kitchen. I cannot HYPE this up enough! Brown sugar makes my self tans last sooo much longer and plus I like the scent of it. So first I get in the hot shower and let the water soak my skin for about 3- 5 minutes before I try to exfoliate, typically during this time I wash my hair with shampoo. Next I grab my exfoliating mitt and my brown sugar mixture (half a cup of brown sugar, mix it with a drop or two of water) and start scrubbing. You don't need scrub too hard just enough to remove the old tan or excess dead skin. If you don't want to use brown sugar then same steps can apply with soap and water. If you have on a previous self tan wait about a week then get in the warm/hot shower, soak from about 3-5 minutes, use an exfoliating mitt, and scrub. Here are a couple of exfoliating scrubs I use as well: Coconut Crush Scrub (a tad pricey, I just love the way it smells and feels afterwards), and Shea Sugar Scrub (way more affordable).


The number one question I'm asked, "When do I shave before or after I exfoliate?" First exfoliate with brown sugar or whatever soap/scrub you use, then shave! I've only recently deamed using shaving cream as essential part of my routine especially on tanning days. The shaving cream leaves my skin feeling smooth afterwards which in returns makes applying my self tanner easier and makes it last longer. I'm not sold on any particular shaving cream right now, but I have a few I'm testing out. I'll keep you updated on my favorite when I find it. Also, do not get out of the shower and apply lotion or any moisturizer before you tan. This is a big NO NO!! It will interfere with the DHA.

Blending Hands and Feet

Once I'm out of the shower I will apply oil to my elbows, ankles, and occasionally my wrist/hands. These spots tend to be more dry and typically the hardest spots to blend. The oil helps the self tanner to blend into these areas and not create harsh lines. If you do decide to use oil do not let it get anywhere else because the tan won't show up as well. I don't always do the oil step only occasionally. I will use the oil if I notice my skin is extra dry or if the last time I applied my self tanner I noticed it got darker in those areas. I use Dr. Teals Body Oil and a beauty brush to apply the oil. Once the oil is absorbed into your skin you can apply your tan!

When to Tan

I tan about once a week. I cannot stress this enough, do not apply your self tanner and shower early because you are worried you will get too dark! Showering early will only make your tan splotchy. Don't worry, wait the full allotted time of 6- 8 hours before washing. I suggest tanning 2 days before any big event that way it gives your tan time to develop, and you time to moisturize so your tan looks smooth and seamless.

As for my personal schedule, I typically apply my tan at night around 9 p.m., sleep in the product, and wake up to shower it off. Unless, I am using my 2 hour express tan then I'll shower/exfoliate that morning, apply the tan after work 6 p.m., and then shower around 8:30/9 p.m. It's also important to note you should be moisturizing and using lotion every day! Applying lotion will help your tan to last longer and to fade without becoming as splotchy.

My Personal Self Tanner Favorites

1. Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops & Butter- This has been my absolute favorite self tanner product!! I started using it about 3 weeks ago and I'm now obsessed. I'm not going to lie, it was an adjustment. After the first time I used it I noticed I had awkward streaks and spots all over my body haha. Honestly, it will probably happen again in my future. The drops are clear so I'm not able to see where I have already applied or haven't applied the tanning drops. The color gradually develops over the next couple hours and by the next day you will see it fully developed. I use the 6-8 drops in shade dark and loooooove how long my tan last! Do not use the drops without mixing them into your moisturizer or lotion. I mix the Isle of Paradise drops with their Self Tanning Butter. I also recommend wearing gloves while applying your drop/lotion mixture. Once it's all over your body use a beauty brush or tanning mitt to apply the mixture onto hands. I prefer to use gloves when applying the drops versus a tanning mitt. The tanning mitt works wonders, but it reduces the overall darkness of the tan because the mitt soaks up some of the tanning drops. Remember to moisturize everyday! I use the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Butter or Tan Luxe Illuminating Tanning Butter every 1-2 days to keep my tan glowing. On days I don't choose to the self tanning butter (it works as a gradual self tanner) I will use Neutrogena Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream.

2. Tan Luxe The Face Illuminating Self-Tan Drops- THIS IS A MUST BUY!! No matter what self tanner you choose to use I highly recommend using these self tan drops for your face. I use to apply my self tanners to my face, but tit would leave my face looking dirty and hated it. So now I apply my self tanners everywhere, but my face and use these drops instead. Because I apply makeup to my face and wash my face every night/morning it always fades faster than the rest of my body. These drops have been my solution for maintaining a tan face. Every night I add a couple drops to my face moisturizer before going to bed.

3. Loving Tan Deluxe Bronzing Mousse & Loving Tan Deluxe Bronzing 2 Hour Express- I'm a fan of both of these self tanners and still continue to use them! I like that you can see where it has applied. There's no guessing game wondering if you missed a spot. If you are a beginner to self tanning and nervous about trying it I recommend starting with these mousses versus the isle paradise drops. I apply the mousse to my mitt and then start rubbing it all over. I buy both mousses in shade dark (I photographed the 2 hr express in medium because I still had the bottle from when I began trying them). I was nervous the dark would be too dark so I started with medium, but felt confident enough after applying the medium to switch to dark. If you are nervous about self tanning I would start with the medium and then go darker if you want. These mousses are simple to use and show up immediately after applying it. You never have to worry about leaving streaks or missing spots because you will be able to visually see the mistake and fix it right then. The only difference between the bronzing mousse and the 2 hour express bronzing mousse is the length of time you wear it before washing. I do prefer the 2 hour express mousse just because it takes less time and its great for "I have an event in a couple hours but want to look tan." They both work the same, but the I have noticed the 2 hour express tan does fade quicker.

Wow that was a lot of information! I hope this helps. I know having a tan makes me feel more confident so I wanted to create this guide for anyone else who also feels the same, but is unsure how to go about the process. Good luck! I can't wait to see your self tan selfies! If I missed anything or you have any other questions feel free to message me or leave a comment below:)

Much Love, Reba Faye




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